Monday, March 19, 2012

Avalanche hits Kashmir

Gale blows away roofs, uproots trees, snaps power supply
Schools closed, people asked to stay indoors in Kashmir

The overnight gale across Kashmir that uprooted trees and blew away the roof tops at several places forced authorities to close down schools in the region for today.

The gale that started last night and is still continuing snapped the power supply across Kashmir.

The authorities have declared holiday for the schools and have asked people to stay indoors to avoid causalities from flying objects and falling trees.

The traffic on the roads is very thin as people have preferred to stay indoors.

The authorities are assessing the situation and loss caused by the gale.

Meanwhile, three laborers working with the Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) were rescued while two are still trapped under a snow avalanche that hit their vehicle in Gurez last evening.

Reports reaching here said that an avalanche hit village Badwan in Gurez at around 6 p.m. yesterday and a Tata Sumo that was on its way Kishanganga dam site to village Badwan was buried under it.

The Sumo was carrying four laborers. Two laborers and driver were rescued by a joint rescue team of Police, army and local while operation to rescue two others is going on.

Two laborers were from Kishtiwar and one each from Baramulla and Gurez. Out of the two missing, one is from Kishtiwar and another from Gurez.

The three rescued laborers have been admitted in hospital at Gurez and condition of them is out of danger.

The administration has kept Indian Air Force helicopters on stand standby for evacuating the injured to Srinagar in the morning in case it is required.

The heavy rains and freak weather is hampering the rescue operation that was launched immediately after the avalanche hit the village.. However, no damage was done in the village.

MLA Gurez, Nazir Ahmad Khan told News Agency that he was monitoring the rescue operation and has directed the authorities operation should be continued till the two other missing laborers are traced.

It may be mentioned here that 16 army personnel were killed when an avalanche struck Brigade headquarter of army in Gurez last month.

This year due to heavy snowfall in North Kashmir along the Line of Control avalanches damaged the fence at several places and at most of places it is buried under snow. The maximum damage was caused in Gurez army posts have been vacated after threat of avalanches.

The avalanche last month also killed three army personnel in Central Kashmir district of Ganderbal when an avalanche hit an army camp at tourist place of Sonmarg.

Over two dozen villagers and employees of Sonmarg Development Authority were rescued from village Shitkara and Sonmarg last month by army, police and local administration after they were trapped in snow avalanches.

Gold smiths hold protest

The gold shops and markets across Kashmir valley remained closed for third consecutive day today and traders continued protests against the proposals to raise duty on gold imports and levying excise duty on unbranded jewellery.

Two major gold markets in Kashmir at Hari Singh High Street and Saraf Kadal remained closed and gold smiths protested against the budgetary proposals of the Union Government. The Gold Smiths Association held protests at Hari Singh High Street and Partap Park against the proposal.

The general secretary of the Association, Abdul Samad Zargar, said that for past several years the gold prices went up and it has affected the gold trade as common people can't afford it now.

He said that proposed hike in import duty on gold and levying of 1 percent excise duty on non-branded jewellery would affect business and wipe-off the existence of small jewellers in the state.

The gold smiths demanded roll back of the budgetary proposals. They urged the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to use his influence for getting these proposals revoked.

Meanwhile, a meeting of retailers and small jewellers was held at Reasi under the presidentship of Vijay Abrol, wherein they protested against the Central Government’s decision to impose excise duty of 1 per cent on unbranded jewellery and 4 per cent import duty on gold.

In the district, jewellery shops remained closed for the third consecutive day on the call given by All India Sarafa Association.

Work on Rambagh Bikram Chowk flyover in Sept

Minister of State for Planning Manohar Lal Sharma today informed the House that the construction work of two ambitious flyover projects include Jehangir Chowk to Natipora on the Airport Road and Bikram Chowk to Women's College Gandhi Nagar would be started in September-October 2012.

The Minister was replying to a question of Vijay Bakaya in Legislative Council. He said that Jehangir Chowk Flyover would be constructed at an estimated cost of ` 256.66 crore and Bikram Chowk flyover at an estimated cost of ` 95.50 crore, adding that the expected time for completion of each flyover will be three years after the works are physically taken up for execution.

Minister of State for PHE, Nasir Aslam Wani informed the House that 3 Centrally sponsored schemes viz ARWSP/NRDWP, JNNURM, UIDSSMT, are operational for providing safe drinking water to the people residing in Rural and Urban areas of the State.

He was replying to a question Naresh Kumar Gupta. He said the payment is being made to the contractors through cheques, adding that the payment is also being made directly to the Labourer engaged and in some time through Labourer mates.

Mr. Nasir said that total 214 water tankers, 163 belonging to PHE Department and 51 of private agencies, have been engaged for providing drinking water facilities to the people.

Dr. Bashir Ahmed Veeri, Khalid Najeeb Suharwardy asked supplementary to the question.

Replying to another question of Subhas Chander Gupta, Mr. Nasir informed the house that for developing of drinking water sources in Kathua district ` 2.72 crore have been spent during 2008-09, ` 1.81 crore during 2009-10 and ` 2.54 crore during 2010-11 under MNP scheme .

Similarly ` 22. 87 crore have also been spent during 2009-10, ` 20.77 crore during 2010-11 for developing of drinking water sources under ARWSP, in the district ,he added.

14 percent increase in literacy rate

The Minister for Technical Education R.S. Chib on behalf of the Education Minister today informed the House that the literacy rate increased from 55.50% (census 2001) to 68.74% (census 2011) showing overall increase of 13.67% and 15% increase in female literacy, which is higher than the national average.

Replying to the debate on demands for grants for Education Department in the House, Chib said that there is a Network of 23,454 Govt. schools and 4719 Private recognized schools (14,453 Primary schools, 6976 Middle schools, 1418 High Schools, 607 Hr. Secondary Schools). adding that a total enrollment of 23.40 lakh students enrolled from Primary to Sr. Secondary level.

He said that there are Two State Institutes of Education (SIE) one each at Kashmir and Jammu, adding that 22 District Institutes of Education and Trainings (DIETs) are functioning for ensuring Quality Improvement of Teaching, Learning capacity of Government teachers. He said establishment of 8 new District Institutes of Education and Training (DIET) for 8 newly created districts during 2007-08, are part of 22.

He said 7 lakh children at Primary stage and three lakh at Upper Primary stage are covered under Mid Day Meal scheme during 2011-12.

Deliberating on Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Mr. Chib said that 10185 numbers of Primary Schools have been opened till date under this scheme so far. He said 6343 Primary Schools have been upgraded to Middle Schools.

He said 5921 Primary school buildings have been constructed under SSA, adding that another 2817 such buildings are at various stages of construction. He said 723 Middle School buildings have been constructed while 449 such buildings are under construction. He said 6215 additional

Class rooms have been constructed and the construction of 4597 more such class rooms is in progress. He said 86 Block Resource Centers(BRCs) have been constructed while 24 more are under construction and 12 KGBVs have been constructed while 55 are at various levels of construction.

Chib said that Special focus is on girls education in order to bridge gap between male and female literacy, he said, adding 99 Educationally Backward Block (EBBs) have been approved for J&K where female literacy in less than the national female literacy rate. He said 12 KGBVs=92 buildings have been completed.

The Minister said that ways and means have been introduced to improve the results which include 2365 trained teachers have been promoted as Masters in 2010 and 2011, out of which promote masters have been posted in far flung areas of Bani, Kathua, Basholi, Kishtwar, Doda, Ramban and Bhaderwah. Five hundred eighty one Masters have been placed as I/C Headmasters to provide Headmasters to the High Schools. Besides 631Lecturers were appointed through PSC/ DPC in last two years and adjusted in various Higher Secondary schools in Jammu Province on vacancies to meet up the deficiency of teaching staff in the schools.

Thirteen members participated in the discussion and identified the areas of improvement. They suggested measures to upgrade and improve the quality of education and creating competitive spirits amongst the students so that they can secure their place in different fields at the national as well as global level.

Later, the House passed the grants for the Education Department and its allied wings for the year 2012-13 with voice vote. The members who moved the Cut Motions withdrew after satisfying with the reply of the Minister.

Kissan Melas to be organized at Panchayat level

Minister for Agriculture, Ghulam Hassan Mir today informed the Lower House that to educate farmers about modern techniques of farming and provide them better marketing opportunities of agriculture produce, the Kissan Melas and agriculture awareness camps would be now organized at Panchayat levels.

This was stated by the Minister in response to the supplementaries of Sajad Ahmed Kitchloo, M. Y. Tarigami, Sukhnandan, Jugal Kishore and Balwant Singh Mankotia to a question by Ashwani Sharma. He said that the Government has introduced a policy under which agriculture technocrats engaged on the pattern of Rehbar-e-Zirat would be regularized.

The Minister said that Government has taken several initiatives for promotion of agriculture production in the State. "Farmers training camps, field school, kissan melas, kissan ghosties, farmer- scientists interaction, exposure visits outside State, distribution of literature besides providing subsidies on agriculture inputs and equipments are some initiatives taken by the Government for upliftment of farming community of the State", he added. He said that due care is being given for development of agriculture produce in Jammu district also, adding strict action would be taken against the concerned if any found involved for purchase and supply of substandard chemical fertilizer.

Replying to another question by Sajad Ahmed Kitchloo, the Minister said that under RKVY four ropeways would be constructed in Kishtwar area at an estimated cost of ` 4.49 crore, adding that these ropeways would be constructed at Sohal to Chitto, Gulabgarh to Ligri, Sohal to Ungai and Sohal to Kabban for lifting of their farm products to the main road.

Revised package of 3000 posts for KP youth shortly

Minister for Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation, Raman Bhalla today said that revised package of appointing 3000 members of Kashmiri Pandit community was under examination of Finance department and these posts will be filled up shortly.

Replying to calling attention motion of NC member Vijay Bakaya in the Upper House today, Mr Bhalla said that revised package of appointing these youth with more posts was under active consideration of the Government and the proposal which is under examination of Finance department will be submitted to the Centre for approval.

The minister said under Prime Minister’s package, 3000 posts were created and separate rules were notified vide SRO 412 of 2009 for making recruitment against these posts. He said the SSRB has made selection of 1925 candidates from this community for different categories and orders have already been issued in favour of 1922 candidates, out of which 1287 have joined so far in the Valley.

The minister said so far as the selection of de-reserved posts of various categories are concerned, the SSRB was requested to furnish the selection of candidates against these de-reserved posts out of the merit list already prepared under general category of migrants. The SSRB however, did not agree due to some legal complicacies and the matter was accordingly referred to Law department. The matter was thoroughly examined and now it has been taken up with the Finance department for obtaining their concurrence so as to proceed further.

Giving break up of the posts of KP candidates filled up, Mr Bhalla said 138 candidates were selected as teachers, 14 as Junior Engineers, 14 as Social Workers in the Social Welfare Department, 12 as Lab Assistants and Librarians. Responding to another question of Mr Bakaya, the Minister admitted that 800 remaining posts were approved by the Cabinet and it was necessary to take up the issue with Finance department as the funds are routed through it. He said not only these but more posts are being added and after approval from the Centre the KP youth will be provided great relief. Mr Bhalla said the Government was committed for the return of migrants to Valley and this exercise will help a lot in confidence building measures. He claimed that majority Muslim community members have been helping these KP youth a lot wherever they have posted. They have been welcomed at many places.

Students in Govt Schools

MLAs’ concern over decreasing number of students in Govt schools
Harsh turns tables on Govt for dismal performance of Education Department

 Turning tables on Government, Panthers Party MLA and former Minister, Harshdev Singh criticized the functioning of Education Department in the State which he alleged was in total disarray with complete collapse of education edifice.

Speaking on the annual grants of Education Ministry and Youth Services and Sports in Assembly today he alleged total breakdown of education set up in the State with academic activity having become the major causality of bureaucratic red tape and official negligence.

He said how the issues raised by Members in the House would be solved when Minister replying the grants can't be held accountable. The Department is in total shambles and schemes are not being implemented, he added.

Alleging that thousands of government schools were facing acute deficiency of teaching staff with government maintaining a criminal silence on the issue, he said that the remote area schools were the major sufferers and almost become defunct due to staff paucity and non availability of teaching faculty.

Singh said that Government had itself admitted in the meeting of Project Apprisal Board (PAB) held in New Delhi in June 2011 that 13020 posts of teachers were vacant at the elementary level itself with 8104 vacancies in Upper Primary Schools and 4916 vacancies in primary schools. Apart from these over 12000 vacancies of Masters, head masters and lecturers were available at secondary level including High and Higher Secondary schools thus taking the total number of vacancies around 25,000. This includes 5000 posts of masters sanctioned for the state under RMSA during the last three years none of which has been filled up till date.

He also criticized the failure of government in creating posts for various high and higher secondary schools created and upgraded after the year 2008-09, thus adversely affecting not only the pass percentage of the said schools but also jeopardizing the career of students.

Expressing concern over the dismal performance of Education Department the PDP's Busharat Bukhari said that during the different Committees meetings it was decided to write to Union Government not to sanction funds for us in the field of education as `` we are not able to utilize them properly''. He said in some constituencies the money was released for construction of schools but these schools are without roofs resulting in collapse of the buildings, as timber was not available for roofs.

The private schools show good results and the government schools are far behind due to the defective system in the state, he added.

M Y Teriyaki of CPI (M) who maintained that the education is key for transformation asked that why state has failed to provide quality education despite spending huge amount on education. The MLA said that the level of education has not increased in the state.

He said the education and health, which are the social sectors are now most profitable commercial sectors in the state. He wanted to know how much of money received from Central government for schooling of drop-outs was spent.

Engineer Rashid said that education needs justice and stressed on either total privatization of education or closure of private schools to put educational system back on rails in the state.

Ch. Zulfkar of PDP urged the government to pay attention towards those government schools, which have role of 400 students having only two teachers to educate them. He also highlighted the plight of those students who are reading under open sky and have no jute mating in their schools.

The MLA said the children of teachers are studying in private schools while roll in government schools is decreasing day by day.

Prof Garu Ram Bhagat said that the sanction strength of teachers in his area is 327 while only 156 are available. Which means 50 percent posts are vacant. Though there are highly qualified teachers in government schools still quality education is not available.

G M Saroori said that in erstwhile Doda district the norms fixed by government for up-gradation of schools were not taken into consideration and there is a high school at a distance of 40 kilometres in this hilly area.

Waqar Rasool of Congress also stressed that rural areas needed attention as students after middle have to travel 35 kilometres for education in High schools.

Nazir Gurezi, Jugal Kishroe Sharma and Nizam-ud-Din Bhat also highlighted the plight of students in their constituencies.

67 JKTDC huts located at Cheshmashahi occupied by VIPs

Only one hut kept for tourists' on-line booking
67 JKTDC huts located at Cheshmashahi occupied by VIPs

Even as the Jammu Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation is losing revenue worth crores every year, nearly 67 of its huts located at prime locations of Cheshmashahi and Pari Mahal, near Dal lake in Srinagar (Kashmir) are occupied by VIPs including bureaucrats and a few legislators.

Raising this issue in the Upper House today, PDP members Mohd Ashraf Mir and Murtaza Khan pointed out that JKTDC whose financial condition was already not good has been let to suffer huge loss as its beautiful huts, located at prime locations of Srinagar city have been occupied by bureaucrats. Lakhs of tourists who visit Kashmir every year have been denied this facility despite the fact that these huts were raised for them.

Mr Khan asked if militancy was the reason to accommodate these people in such huts, what steps were taken by the Government in last three years to arrange alternative accommodation for them and before militancy, where were they accommodated. Whether Government intended to get these huts vacated and when, he asked.

Giving reply, Minister in charge Tourism Nawang Rigzin Jora said the JKTDC has 45 huts available at Cheshmashahi and 22 at Pari Mahal in Srinagar. During summer (May-Oct 2011), 46 huts were with Estates, 19 Home Department, one with J&K Bank while only one was kept for the online booking/ reservation of tourists. During winters, out of the total, 40 huts are kept for tourists reservation. In response to a question the Minister said that JKTDC is getting revenue from the concerned departments and it generated revenue of ` 2.95 crore during 2010-11 and till January 2012 this year nearly ` 2.34 crore. He said due to militancy and security threat, these officials were accommodated there and now Government was planning to raise alternative accommodation for them.

Mr Jora provided the list of occupants of huts at Cheshmashahi and Pari-Mahal. They included BJP MLA Ashok Khajuria, MLC BR Kundal, Gopal Reddy ADG Security, Alok Puri DIG Adm (PHQ), Tashi Dorjay Secy ARI/Trg, R Monga Pilot State Civil Aviation, Retd Justice and member SAC M L Koul, G Mamgain Pilot Civil Aviation, Himanshi Pilot Civil Aviation, Deepak Khanna IFS/CCF Eco Tourism, Irshad Ahmed Khan, PCCF, S P Ved ADG, Commissioner/ Secretary Sudhanshu Panday, R L Bhat Member PSC, K B Aggarwal Principal Secretary, Atul Dulloo Commissioner/ Secy, Manoj Kumnar Dwivedi Secretary S&T. Pritam Chand IFS, A K Tiku Chief Warden, J P Singh IPS Director SSG, Ashok Kumar Atri, Suresh Kumar Pr Secy Housing, B B Vyas Pr Secy to CM, B R Sharma Pr Secy Home, Justice Retd G D Sharma/ President CDRC, V S Swalkar Pilot Civil Aviation, R D Tiwari IFS, Umang Narula Commissioner/ Secy, Navin Aggrawal IPS, Vinod Koul/ Relief Commissioner, Ram Lubhaya ADG Home, Parmod Jain, F C Revenue, R K Jerath IAS, Shaleen Kabra MD JKPDC, R K Koul CGM BSNL, H L Goswami Member PSC, Jalil Ahmed Khan Eco Advisor, P L Gupta Commissioner Vigilance, Jeet Lal Gupta Commissioner / Secy, K B Jandial Member PSC and Arvinder Singh Micky. Three huts were reserved for Estates guests, one for Intelligence Bureau, three for High Court Judges one for JK Bank and one for Commissioner Bureau. Five huts were with Raj Bhawan staff, one for Dy Director IB, two for BSF, four for NSG staff and seven others for Governor's staff. Total 19 were under Home Department.

herbal sapling plantation function

AWSC organizes awareness cum herbal 
sapling plantation function

 Association for Welfare of Senior Citizens (AWSC) organised an awareness cum herbal sapling plantation function at Sector 3, Trikuta Nagar.

The function was organised under World Wide Fund (WWF) programme with the theme "Forest for Sustainable Livelihood".

Large number of residents of the area and member of AWSC under the chairmanship of VN Sharma, Rtd CE and former Administrator, Jammu Municipal Corporation participated in the plantation drive.

On the occasion, as many as 20 herbal trees like Amla, Harar, Bera, Arjun, Retha, Kachnar, Jamun and some ornamental plants were planted.

Among others present were Vikram Gour, president, AWSC, Dr HN Patwari, Dr TR Gupta, JBS Johar, Rtd CE, TP Singh, SC Sharma, Rtd CE, JS Sudan, RC Gupta, Janak Raj Gupta, Arun Raj Gaur, Prof Suresh Gupta, Prof SK Gupta, VK Vij and RN Malhotra.

All the residents assured proper upkeep of the plants and will organize these kinds of plantation drive at other parks of Trikuta Nagar.

Same Day Speed Post

Deptt of Posts to launch Same Day Speed Post 
Service from Mar 22

In a major initiative, the Department of Posts is going to launch Same Day Speed Post Service between the cities of Jammu and Srinagar from March 22.

Chief Postmaster General, J&K, John Samuel, while briefing the media said the cities of Srinagar and Jammu will be connected by same day service.

He added that all the articles booked at Srinagar GPO till 11 am will be delivered in Jammu city on the same day.

Similarly, articles booked at Gandhi Nagar HO, Jammu Tawi HO, Vinayak Bazar and Janipur before 11 am will be delivered in Srinagar on the same day.

Johan Samuel maintained that the service will be available only in summer and the staff of Post Office will deliver the articles in Srinagar and Jammu on their motor bikes.

He added that the customer will also be informed about the delivery of their article. He also disclosed that Gandhi Nagar Head Post Office will start functioning as Night Head Post Office from today and it will be the first Night Post Office in J&K.

Samuel stated that Gandhi Nagar Post Office will be open up to 8 pm with a view to provide better services to the people of Jammu.

The Post Office will also function on Sundays and holidays for a short time. He said Bahu Plaza area will also be served by Gandhi Nagar Post Office with an objective to provide better services.

"The department has taken many steps to improve the functioning of Gandhi Nagar Post Office including the provision of Post Shop, Instant Money Order Services and e-Post Services", John Samuel said.

CS asks scientists to promote technology based farming

The Chief Secretary, Madhav Lal today urged upon the scientists at the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Science and Technology (SKUAST) Jammu to accelerate the process of bringing the technology to the fields to make agriculture a profitable activity.

Addressing the participants at the inaugural function of 2 day Kissan Mela organized by the Varsity to involve local farmers in fixing the priorities in the research initiatives, the Chief Secretary said that the 72 percent population of the State associated with agriculture and its allied sectors have great hopes from SKUAST and it should come up to their expectations.

He said that the university has direct interaction with the farmers which would help it to look into the priorities to ensure the socio- economic uplift of the farming community. He said that the university was doing well and hoped that it would continue to meet challenges ahead, particularly with regard to making agriculture in Jammu and Kashmir a profitable activity and at the same time help the State to achieve the crucial goal of self sufficiency in the food.

Chief Secretary asked the SKUAST authority to organize such events at block level as that would help farmers to share their experience and know about new techniques in various types of farming.

Speaking on the occasion, Vice Chancellor SKUAST, Jammu, Dr. B. Mishra said the University has completed 12 years of its existence in the service of farming community. He said that during this period the university has made rapid progress in education, research and extension services. The academic excellence, need based research and support through extension services for enhanced livelihood security of farmers have made a presence felt among the clientele.

While addressing the gathering of farmers Commissioner/ Secretary, Agriculture Production Department Shaleen Kabra said that the Kissan Mela provides a platform to the stakeholders in the field of agriculture viz farmers, livestock owners, agri-business and industry, entrepreneurs, researchers, technocrats, extension workers and students to discuss, demonstrate, deliver and exhibit technologies and knowledge for benefit of agrarian community. He said it was only forum of its kind where policy makers, Government officials and likeminded organizations come together to have a dialogue with the farmers and where innovative technologies of farming are demonstrated to the farmers.

Director Research, Dr. I. S. Blai gave a detailed resume of the activities of the University.

About 5000 farmers mostly from Poonch, Rajouri, Kathua, Udhampur and the neighboring states of Punjab Himachal and Haryana including farm women, livestock owners, entrepreneurs, NGOs, Scientists scholars participated in the Kissan Mela to interact and exchange their views and experience.

Earlier, Chief Secretary went around the stalls installed by various progressive farmers for showcasing their varieties. The agricultural inputs were also put on display in the exhibition.

Frame rules of Dowry Restrained Act within 4 months

Division Bench of State High Court comprising Justice Virender Singh and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar today directed the State Government to complete the exercise of framing rules of Dowry Restrained Act, 1960, within a period of four months.

The directions were issued in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Advocate Meharban Singh seeking direction to the State to implement Dowry Restrained Act 1960 in its letter and spirit and formulate relevant rules for proper enforcement of the Act.

Earlier, in response to the previous directions of the court, the State Government filed a detailed reply through Additional Secretary to Home Department Mohd Iqbal Mir with a chart supplied by Staff Officer to IG Crime Head Quarters reflecting the figure of registration of cases under Dowry Restrained Act 1960 of last five years from 2007 to ending January, 2012.

In view of the reply submitted by the State, Senior Advocate S S Lehar appearing for the PIL submitted that the main purpose of filing the present PIL was to get to the rules framed by the State so as to enforce the provisions of the Dowry Restrained Act effectively.

After hearing Senior Advocate S S Lehar assisted by Advocate Amit Gupta for the PIL whereas AAG Gagan Basotra for the State, the Division Bench observed, "in view of the concern shown by the State in implementing the Dowry Restrained Act, 1960 effectively by framing the relevant rules, may at a belated stage, that too after the Court took serious note of it, the instant Public Interest Litigation is disposed of with a direction to the State to complete this exercise within four months positively".

Three Day Heritage Fair begins at Kala Kendra

Ethnic vibrancy of Gujjar-Bakerwal culture, heritage on show

Three-day Gujjar Heritage Fair, the first of its kind exposition of culture and tradition of noble nomads of the state, started at the Kala Kendra, here today.

Organized by Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, the exclusive event showcasing richness of the ethnic way of life of Gujjar and Bakerwals through exhibition of costumes, jewelry, artifacts and objects of daily use, along with age-old legacy of folk lore, music as well as Gojri contemporary literature published so far, is being considered as community’s mega cultural event in modern times.

The must-see event not only provided a glimpse into the unique ethnic practices and vibrancy of nomadic community wherein form and function combine in an inimitable blend of aesthetic and functionality, but also drew attention towards an urgent need to preserving it for posterity.

The three-day mega cultural event was inaugurated by Mian Altaf, Minster for Forests and Environment, and Aijaz Ahmed Khan, Minster of State of for Hajj and Auqaf, Mushtaq Ahmed Sayed Bukhari, Vice Chairman, Advisory Board for Pahari Speaking People, Jahangir Mir, MLC, Atal Dullo, Commissioner, Tourism & Culture and Secretary Academy, were also present on the occasion.

Congratulating the Academy and Dr Javaid Rahi, Chief Editor, Gojari, for the historic initiative, Mian Altaf, in his address said that such exhibitions not only provide a peep into the rich cultural treasures of the community but also will also help in a great way to orient the new generation of the Gujjars and Bakerwals with their roots.

Echoing similar sentiments Aijaz Ahmed Khan, said that the show was energetic, colorful and exciting. He said Academy should preserve this for all generations to come. Terming the heritage fair as ‘a nice effort’, Mushtaq Ahmad Bukhari said that such events were needed and should be held at regular intervals.

Atal Dulloo in his welcome address described the event as first of its kind in recent times and said that the Academy would continue the tradition of holding such events in future also.

Dr Javaid Rahi, Chief Editor Gojri, said we are documenting all the shades of Gujjar identity especially the tradition of nomads which are dying down due to onslaught of globalisation. Mohammed Mansha Khaki, senior editor Gojri, presented vote of thanks.

Inaugural session was followed by ‘meet the eminent contemporary’ programme with founder editor of Gojri, Choudhary Naseem Poonchi, which was presided over by former secretary Academy N D Sharma, Fazal Mushtaq and Choudhary Gulzar Khatana. A dance show was also held on the occasion. The NGOs which also participated in the Heritage Fair included Gurjardesh Charitable Trust, Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation, Majlis-un Nissa, Sopore, Kashmir and Abrol Manuscripts, Rare Book Library, Jammu. While the exhibition’s display was done by well-known sculptor Chander Prakash.

The prominent personalities present on the occasion were Farooq Nazki, Media advisor to Government, N D Jamwal, Prof Rita Jitendra, Rajinder Tikku, Aiyaz Rasool Nazaki, and Prof Zahoor-ud-Din. The three-day festival would culminate on March 21.

Prof Dhar is new JU Controller Exams

Vice-Chancellor, University of Jammu, Prof Mohan Paul Singh Ishar today ordered the appointment of Prof Manoj K Dhar, Director, The School of Bio-Technology, as new Controller Examinations of Jammu University till further orders in addition to his own duties. He relieved Prof G M Bhat from additional charge.

Besides, Prof Devanand, Head, Department of Computer Science and Information Technology, has been given the additional charge of Centre for IT Enabled Services and Management.

Guneet Singh Soodan, Assistant Director, Technology Support System, at Dhanvantri Library, has been relieved from his existing duties and shall report to the Director, Centre for IT Enabled Services for further duties.

3 cops suspended in PTS Kathua

Principal Police Training School (PTS), Kathua, SP Ashok Sharma today ordered suspension of three trainers for not handling the situation effectively last night after a scuffle between two trainee constables over switching off of the lights.

Mr Sharma has ordered suspension of Selection Grade Constable Muneer Hussain and constables Purshotam Singh and Rumal Singh.

DIG Jammu-Kathua range Farooq Khan today visited Kathua and met the recruits. He listened to their grievances and addressed them on spot.

The trainees were pacified with the intervention of Mr Khan, SSP Kathua JL Sharma, DC Kathua Zahida Khan and PTS Principal Ashok Sharma.

Later, the senior officers organized a cultural get together like dancing and singing among trainees. The fresh recruits were rewarded on the occasion.

Police said situation was completely normal in the PTS Kathua and all activities were going well.

House not taken seriously

Creating an embarrassing situation for the Government, entire Opposition staged a walkout during the second sitting of Legislative Assembly today forcing Deputy Speaker, Sartaj Madni, to adjourn the House for 11 minutes. The opposition protested against the failure of treasury benches to take the business of the House seriously among whom only 10 members including two Ministers were present.

Taking a serious exception to the treasury benches for not taking the House seriously, the PDP’s Peer Mansoor stood up from his seat and raised a Point of Information. He pointed towards Deputy Speaker, Sartaj Madni, saying that Treasury Benches are not taking the House seriously as only 10 members from ruling alliance were present in the House while the number of opposition members was 21.

He was supported by his party colleague Ch Zulfkar who also stood up from his seat saying that they would stage walkout, as Government was not serious in running the House. Meanwhile, all opposition members including those of BJP, its rebel group and Panthers Party also stood up from their seats and started arguing with Deputy Speaker saying that they would stage a walk out in protest against the non-seriousness of the Government in running the House.

Some of the members also came near the Well and started arguing with Sartaj Madni. Though the Deputy Speaker pleaded with the members not to stage a walkout appealing them to take their respective seats, they refused to budge. "Please take your seats’’ repeated Deputy Speaker but the opposition members did not relent and staged a walkout forcing him to adjourn the House at 1646 hours for 11 minutes. The House later assembled at 1657 hours.

In the meantime, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Rural Development, Ali Mohammed Sagar, along with Minister of Transport and CAPD Qamar Ali Akhoon, entered the House. Sagar too tried to appeal the members to take their seats but to no avail. Even the NC chief whip and Advisor to Chief Minister, Mubarak Gul, persuaded the opposition members not to leave as members of ruling alliance were on their way to House but it did not convince them.

Later when House resumed its business at 1657 hours and the Deputy Speaker asked the Minister to reply the grants, the PDP MLAs, Javed Mustafa Mir and Peer Mansoor, again staged a walkout. The two MLAs protested against the Deputy Speaker for not allowing them to speak on grants.

Mir, who stood up from his seat protested that he will stage walkout if he was not allowed to speak on the grants. He was followed by Peer Mansoor.

The Deputy Speaker said that his party had given the list of three members and all of them spoke on grants. He, however, asked the members that they can raise their point after the Minister’s reply. This was not agreed to by Mir who said that he had to make an important disclosure in the House, as there is a big scam in Education Department as huge funds are being received from Centre on the name of Madrassas and swindled.

Pointing towards Deputy Speaker, Mir said that he was not allowed to speak but he would prove it on the floor of the House later and staged a walk out along with Peer Mansoor in protest.

Earlier NC MLA Mohammed Ashraf took strong exception to the un-parliamentary remarks of Panthers Party MLA, Harshdev Singh against Minister of Medical Education and Youth Services and Sports, R S Chib who had to reply on grants of Education Ministry.

The MLA said Mr Singh being a highly educated member of the House was not supposed to use such words against the Minister.

However, PDP MLA Basharat Bukhari appealed to the Deputy Speaker that the words used by Mr Singh be expunged from records.

8330 kanals of Tawi land encroached

While the department of Irrigation and Flood Control was in process of reclaiming thousands kanal of land in river Tawi by raising bunds, out of 9042 kanals of land reclaimed from the river so far, nearly 8330 kanals and 15 marlas has been encroached upon by people including some influential persons.

While the Revenue department has yet to make any entry of this reclaimed land into its record, nearly 4902 kanals and 18 marlas of land in Sidhra and Dwada belonged to the Forests and Jammu Development Authority. While some land in question falls in Sidhra nearly 2522 kanals of land is located near Dwada village, adjoining under construction Golf Course at the bank of river Tawi. This total area has recently been notified under Section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act by Collector Irrigation and Flood Control for development of infrastructure, in addition to the total reclaimed land.

Member Legislative Council, Murtaza Khan, raised the issue during a discussion in the Upper House today. He pointed out that Government deliberately or otherwise, failed to make entries of this reclaimed land in the Revenue record and huge land has been grabbed by some influential politicians, top officers and many of them have even raised farm- houses. He said as per claim of PHE, I&FC Minister land being reclaimed from river will be more than 5000 kanals and will the Government give exact status and whether it is being added to the Revenue record or not. He sought the detail of such people who are in possession of this land. NC legislator Ajay Sadhotra also expressed serious concern over the issue and said that as per claim of PHE and Flood Control Minister thousands of kanals of land is being reclaimed from Tawi what will be the fate of such land. Why Girdawri of such land was not conducted. He said there was threat of grabbing of this land which is still in the process of reclamation and what steps will be taken to vacate that land. Whether Government intended to get the grabbed land vacated, he asked.

Minister for Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation, Ram Bhalla while replying said that Government as per its clear policy, was committed to get the land vacated from the illegal occupants. He assured the House that encroached land will be got vacated. At the same time he sought cooperation from all quarters in this regard. He claimed that a Task Force headed by Divisional Commissioner, Jammu and involving DC and other officers from Housing, Forest and Police has been framed.

Mr Bhalla admitted that nearly 9042 kanals and 18 marla of land has been reclaimed so far from river Tawi. 712 kanals and 3 marla of land belonged to Niabat Jammu Khas, 8192 kanals 2 marla under Niabat Gho Manhasan and 139 kanals and 13 marlas under Gole Niabat. He said Irrigation and Flood Control department is in process of re-claiming land from the river by raising protection bunds and the process of bringing the said land on record has been started. A field survey is also being done. It is vast area and extensive exercise is required for it.

Revenue Minister further clarified that out of this total area reclaimed, 4902 kanals and 18 marlas belonged to JDA and Forest/WL and it was through a notification acquired by Collector I&FC for development of infrastructure. He however, claimed that no land has recently been reclaimed and entered in record. Bhalla said 8330 kanals and 15 marlas of land was in illegal occupation of many persons and from time to time notices were served to many of them. He said 3575 kanals of encroached land falls in and around Makwal Tawi island, 672 kanals at Singhu Tehra, 937 kanals Tehra, 1712 kanals at Thub, 422 kanals at Raipur Jagir, 869 kanals at Haripur, 138 kanals at Gole and other places. Mr Bhalla said 712 kanals of Land falling in Jammu Khas also belonged at JDA/Forests, out of which 73 kanals and 14 marlas of land is under Park and land measuring 625 kanals situated at Majeen- Sidhra is under Golf Ground. And 23 kanals of land at Bain Bajal is under JDA.

Master Plans of Jammu and Srinagar

Deputy Chief Minister, Tara Chand today said that Master Plans of both the Capital cities are being revised for planned development of requisite physical and social infrastructure and several new housing colonies have been mooted for different sections of the society.

Replying to the discussion on the grants of Housing and Urban Development Department in the Lower House of State Legislature, the Deputy Chief Minister said, "the migration of people from rural areas to both the capital cities for want of livelihood or other reasons has led to unplanned and haphazard growth of Jammu and Srinagar cities and also resulted into shortage of amenities as also chaos and confusion".

"Keeping in view the changing requirements, the process has been undertaken to revise the Master Plans of Jammu as well as Srinagar for rectification of errors, if any, and incorporation of required changes", he said, adding "the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology, University of Ahmedabad, has been entrusted with the job of revision of Jammu Master Plan and the same is in the advance stages of completion".

Similarly, the task of revision of Master Plan for the Srinagar city has been entrusted to M/s SAI Consultancy Engineers Pvt Ltd and the work has already been started, the Deputy Chief Minister said.

"We have also undertaken preparation of Master Plans for towns", he said, adding "the draft Master Plans for Baramulla, Budgam, Kulgam, Doodpathri and Yousmarg have been completed and are under consideration of the Government while as the Master Plans for rest of the towns are under different stages of completion".

Stating that various ambitious projects are being contemplated by the Jammu Development Authority for better development of the city, he said that an idle parking at Khanpur Nagrota has been completed at a cost of ` 330 lakh, ISBT at Transport Nagar has been developed at a cost of ` 140 lakh, parking for 200 cars has been developed at Prem Nagar.

"Urban Local Bodies, Jammu is developing bus stands at Kathua, Basholi, Bari Brahmana, Ramgarh, Khour, Arnia, Surankot, Rajouri, Kalakot and Billawar while as ULB, Kashmir is developing bus stands at Ganderbal, Kupwara, Budgam and Pulwama", the Deputy Chief Minister said.

Admitting that housing colonies have not been developed during the past several years, he said that Housing Board has finalized proposal for setting up new housing colonies at Mujgund, Srinagar, Meencharkan, Jammu and Batalwallian, Udhampur. "We are also trying to finalize locations for the establishment of colony for the media-persons, economically weaker sections and Members of Legislative Assembly", he further said.

To augment urban infrastructure, solid waste management and for decent dwelling units to the urban poor, Union Ministry of Urban Development and Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation have sanctioned 103 projects costing ` 1260.39 crore under different components of JNNURM, he said, adding "with the active support of Union Government, the State is getting necessary financial support for all round development and progress".

He said capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu are covered under the Urban Infrastructure and Governance component of the scheme and four schemes are currently under implementation in these cities.

In smaller towns 45 projects under UIDSSMT costing ` 398.68 crore have been sanctioned for the towns of Kathua, Samba, Akhnoor, Sunderbani, Poonch, Udhampur, Doda and Bhaderwah in Jammu division and Kupwara, Sopore, Baramulla, Ganderbal and Anantnag in Kashmir division. Three sewerage projects in Jammu city under execution by NBCC, ERA and UEED will connect 30,400, 27,500 and 5800 houses respectively with the planned sewer net work.

In case of Srinagar city the three sewerage projects under execution by NBCC and two by UEED will connect 48,220, 18750 and 3000 houses with the main sewer net work, he said.

The members who participated in the debate on demands for grants included Abdul Rehman Veeri, G A Mir, Dr Mustafa Kamal, M Y Tarigami, Prof Chaman Lal Gupta, Balwant Singh Mankotia, Rafi Ahmed Mir, Jugal Kishore, Irfan Shah, Krishan Chander Bhagat, Bimla Luthra, Harshdev Singh, Ashwani Sharma, Peer Afaq, Ashok Khajuria, Ashok Kumar, Aijaz Ahmed Jan, Er Abdul Rashid, Mohammad Ashraf, Syed Bashir Ahmed, Syed Basharat Bukhari, Ch Mohammad Ramzan, Baldev Sharma and Javed Ahmed Mustafa.

Walkouts over refugees and tourism issue

The Lower House of State Legislature today witnessed walk-outs by the members of Jammu-based Opposition over the issues of West Pakistan refugees and neglect of several areas in the tourism sector.

Raising the issue of West Pakistan refugees as soon as the proceedings of the House began, MLA from Jammu West Assembly segment, Prof Chaman Lal Gupta, said that refugees were forced to march towards Delhi to raise their voice as the State Government has failed to meet their aspirations.

Demanding citizenship rights to the West Pakistan refugees, he said, "it is unfortunate that State Government has failed to provide them justice, which they have been clamoring for during the past several decades".

He was joined by all the MLAs of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), National Panthers Party (NPP) and Jammu State Morcha, who left their seats and moved towards the front row. "It is pity that Government is mum over the issue of citizenship rights of refugees", they regretted and asked the Government to make its stand clear on the issue.

As there was no response from the Government, the agitated MLAs started raising slogans against the Government. Slogans like "Refugeeyon Ka Masla Hal Karo", "West Pakistan Refugueeyon Ka Masla Hal Karo" and Refugee Virodhi Sarkar Hai Hai" rented the House.

After protesting against the Government for sometime, all the members of Jammu-based Opposition staged walk-out of the House accusing the Government of not showing any interest towards the genuine demands of the West Pakistan refugees.

Another walk-out was witnessed on the issue of tourism during the Question Hour. "Bani-Basohli areas have rich potential of tourism but the Government has neglected these areas", MLAs from these areas—Jagdish Raj Sapolia and Lal Chand said.

"Due to the neglect, the tourism activities have virtually come to an end in these areas", they said. As they were not allowed to further raise their issue, some more BJP rebel MLAs came to the support of Sapolia and Lal Chand and after protesting for sometime near the front row, all the BJP rebel MLAs staged walk-out.

On this Speaker remarked in a lighter vein, "take Ashok Khajuria along with you".

Earlier, in response to the question of MLA from Basohli, Jagdish Raj Sapolia, Minister for Tourism and Culture, Nawang Rigzin Jora, said, "no work was taken up for promotion of tourism at Dhar-Mahanpur during the last two years".

Delay in Passports to Haj pilgrims

Ruling National Conference and Congress and main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) today unitedly created uproar in the Legislative Assembly in protest against delay in issuance of passports to aspirants of Haj pilgrimage. They resented denial of passports even to distant relatives of militants.

Three PDP MLAs staged a walk-out on the issue.

Amidst uproar, Speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone passed some remarks pertaining to MLAs, which he expunged later and urged media not to report them.

On its part, the Government attributed delay in issuance of passports not to verification but due to heavy load of applications and multiple addresses mentioned by the people besides a new policy of the Union Government.

Minister of State for Home Nasir Aslam Wani said during 2010, the Government had cleared 61,217 applications while during 2011 till December 31, 58,784 applications have been cleared.

PDP MLA and former Minister Javed Mustafa Mir raised issue in the Assembly after Question Hour saying the aspirants of pious Haj pilgrimage were facing problems due to delay in issuance of passports and verification.

"If Yasin Malik (JKLF leader) can be issued passport and allowed to perform Haj, why can’t a common man? The Chair should issue a direction to the agencies for early completion of verification of people to facilitate Haj pilgrimage’’, Mustafa said.

National Conference MLA from Kupwara, Saifullah Mir joined the issue saying that Haj pilgrims had to wait for a long time to get passports. Pointing out that he got the passport after eight months though being a MLA, Mr Mir wanted to know what would be the fate of a common man?

PDP MLA and former Minister Abdul Rehman Veeri said the Haj form was now being given only when the applicant showed the passport. This way the people were suffering due to delay in issuance of passports, he added.

The Speaker while appreciating concern of the MLAs passed some remarks, which evoked reaction from some of the MLAs including Congress leader and former Minister GA Mir and others. The Speaker later expunged his remarks.

Minister for Haj Aijaz Ahmed Khan tried to pacify the agitated MLAs saying the Ministry for External Affairs dealt the issue. Earlier, the Union Government used to issue temporary passports for Haj. However, now the people, who didn’t possess international passports were not being allowed to leave for Haj.

Not satisfied with the reply, three PDP MLAs—Javed Mustafa Mir, Dr Mohammad Shaffi Wani and Mushtaq Shah staged a walk-out in the Assembly. Javed Mir protested in middle of the House demanding immediate passports for the Haj aspirants before staging a walk-out along with his two colleagues.

Intervening, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar advised the MLAs to refrain from passing general remarks and give specific complaints, if they had any, pertaining to delay in issuance of passport. There can be some communication gap in some cases but, in most of the cases, the passports were being issued on time, he added.

National Conference legislators—Saifullah Mir, Kafeel-ur-Rehman and Nazir Gurezi, Congress members GA Mir, Ghulam Mohammad Saroori, Vakar Rasool and Krishan Chander Bhagat and almost all PDP MLAs were on their feet.

Basharat Bukhari, Abdul Haq Khan, Rafiq Khan and Mohammad Khaleel Bhand (all PDP) were nearly in middle of the House demanding simplification of procedure for passport verification of Haj pilgrims.

Congress MLA GA Mir observed that just like Members of Parliament (MPs) have some exemptions, the MLAs should also be extended similar privileges. ``Even the civilians get passports on recommendations of the MPs. We are elected representatives. Our recommendations should also be considered’’, Mr Mir said and also urged the Chair to clarify remarks made on the observations of Saifullah Mir.

The Speaker maintained that the MLA is an authority and no body can challenge it. However, he asserted that verification by the agencies for issuance of passport was a must even for a MLA.

PDP MLA and former Minister Syed Bashir said father of surrendered militant applied for the passport and got it. However, uncle of the surrendered militant was black-listed on the ground that his nephew happened to be a former militant.

He along with many other MLAs of PDP claimed that the people were being denied passports as their distant relatives were involved in militancy. They recalled that even Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had also assured that the people wouldn’t be denied passports merely on the pretext that their distant relatives happened to be militants or former militants.

Responding to concern of the members from different political parties, both ruling coalition partners and the main opposition, Minister of State for Home Nasir Aslam Wani said the Government has adopted a very clear policy that no Haj aspirant would be denied passport merely on the ground that his distant relative was involved in militancy.

"We don’t practice this policy. We have issued clear directions that passport cases of the Haj pilgrims should be expedited and cleared at the earlier’’, Mr Wani said telling the House that 61,217 applications were cleared during 2010 while this year till December 2011, 58,784 applications have been cleared.

"The delay in verification and issuance of passports was not because the aspirants had distant relatives as militants but because of the heavy load and multiple addresses given by the people. The agencies had to conduct verification at all the addresses mentioned by the applicants. The Next of Kins (NoKs) of militants were not being stopped from performing Haj but the applications were held up due to heavy load’’, the MoS Home said.

He added that if the MLAs have any specific complaint they can bring it out to his notice and he would take immediate action.

Mr Wani said for 2012 Haj, the Government of India (Ministry of External Affairs) had introduced new rules under which a copy of passport had to be attached with the application. Earlier, the passport had to be produced when the Haj list was issued. He said the Haj Ministry has repeatedly been issuing advertisements and the aspirants should apply for passports timely. ``We will expedite the process for issuance of passports’’, he added.

As far as the passports of MLAs/MLCs were concerned, Nasir Aslam Wani assured them that verification of their passports would be done on priority.

"Most of the MLAs have passports. Some of the legislators, who didn’t possess passports, can apply and their verification process would be expedited’’, he said.

After sometime, NC MLA Nazir Gurezi urged the Chair to expunge the remarks made about the MLAs as they have created confusion and sent a wrong message outside. The Speaker said he had no intentions to cast aspersions on the MLAs though he had reports that some MLAs from both sides have spoken against him in the lobby, which was not good.

Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar and PDP leader Abdul Rehman Veeri said they have high regards for the Speaker.

Mr Lone expunged the remarks.

Postmasters Conference in Jammu

Department of Posts today held Postmasters conference at Zorawar Singh Auditorium of Jammu University.

During the conference an interactive session was held with Postmasters of Jammu division with Chief Postmaster General to ascertain the ground level situation. Faculty of the Business School of Jammu University gave discourse on Customer Relation, Commission and Business Verification.

The function was presided over by John Samuel, Chief Postmaster General, J&K. In his inaugural address he stated that post office was a unique infrastructure and it is going all out to built its customer relations. He advised participants that they should interact with customers with positive frame of mind, so that a customer after visiting a post office is fully satisfied from its services. He also informed that in order to bind with the public, Department has launched "I Love My Post Office" campaign. During the campaign, members of civil society will be invited to visit to neighbourhood post office for a bounding which is far reaching and permanent.

Amit Sharma, Director Postal Services addressed gathering on the theme "Post Office Touching the Life". He emphasized role of Postmasters and their obligations towards society.

Presidential address of John Samuel was followed by an interactive session of participants with panel of faculty members who imparted training to the Postmasters. Prof. Neelu Rohmetra, Director Business School Jammu University, Dr. Anil Gupta and Dr. Komal Nagar imparted the training. Faculty members felt that time was right for department for effecting a change by team work and better customers relation.

Prof. Neelu Rohmetra exhorted the participants to have a vision of post office and a clear direction of its main objectives to be achieved. She also stated that front desk services were interaction points with the general public and they will have to change first.

Minister for Medical Education, Technical Education, Youth Services and Sports R.S Chib presented awards to outstanding postal employees

AK Bhasin, SPM Jammu Cantt, Asha Sharma, SPM Lakhanpur and Chandan Singh, SPM Gangyal were felicitated on the occasion.

Services of Jang Bahadur, Postman Vinaik Bazar, Bahadur Singh, Postman Gandhinagar, Ved Prakash , Postman Jammu Tawi and Harbans Lal, Postman Gandhinagar were recognized for their outstanding services. They were presented mementos.

Employees who had procured business in PLI and RPLI were also awarded. For PLI Daleep Kumar Gumbal. PA Circle Office, Jammu got the first position while Chand Kumar, SDI Akhnoor stood second and VK Mehara, APM Jammu Tawi stood third.

Tajikistan Ambassador in jammu Kashmir

Tajikistan Ambassador visits shrines of Shah -
i-Hamdan, Bulbul Shah

The Ambassador of Tajikistan, Saidbeg Saidov today visited the Shrines of Hazrat Bulbul Shah (RA) and Hazrat Shahi-i- Hamdan (RA) and paid obeisance there.

The Ambassador, who is the descendent of Hazrat Shah-i-Hamdan(RA) and belongs to Qulab Khatlan, is on a visit to Kashmir Valley. He visited the shrine of Hazrat Bulbul Shah(RA) and said that the great spiritual personality is considered one of the esteemed saints not only in Kashmir but in entire world. He said that it was under his spiritual influence that King of Kashmir Hazrat Sadr-u-din in 13th century adopted realistic way of life and proved his acumen under the moral guidance of Hazrat Bulbul Shah (RA) . He also paid obeisance at the shrine of Hazrat Sadr-u-Din (RA).

The Ambassador immediately after paying obeisance at Mazar-i-sharief of Hazrat Bulbul Shah(RA) proceeded via Aali Kadal and Zaina Kadal route to Khankah-i-Moula where he was received by Mujjawirs and respectable personalities of the area.

He was shown the historical sacred 600 year old holy manuscript of holy Quran written by Hazrat Mir Syed Ali Hamdani(RA). He offered prayers at Khankah. He was also presented a copy of Awrad Fatehya on the occasion.

On the occasion, Kh. Farooq Renzushah, Chairman Hazrat Bulbul Shah Trust, Er. Afaq Chesti, Chairman Khawaja Garib Nawaz Trust, Head of Department, Islamic Research Institute, Kashmir University, Hameed Naseem Rafiabadi and other respectable citizens of the area were present.

KP organizations surprised over statement of SDSS

Various Kashmiri Pandit organizations have expressed grave concern over the recent statements of Sadhoo Dharamsathaan Surakshini Samiti (SDSS) opposing the passage of Kashmiri Hindus Shrines and Temples Bill and accusing the community for selling various temples and shrines land in Valley.

In their separate statements two KP organizations "The All Party Migrant Coordination Committee (APMCC) and Kashmiri Pandit Conference (KPC) termed the statement of Sadhu Samaj as totally unfortunate.

APMCC said dozens of temples in the State had been re-opened and rituals performed over the last decade since the community's mass exodus from the Valley at the height of militancy in the 90's.

APMCC has re-opened dozens of temples in Kashmir valley during the past decade and conducted 'yagnas' and religious festivals in which thousands of Kashmiri Pandits thronged", APMCC Chairman Vinod Pandit, said in a statement here.

He termed the recent comment by a member of SDSS stating that Kashmiri Hindus had not conducted prayers at even a single temple in the Valley during the past two decades as totally baseless.

"APMCC and Temple committees in various towns and villages have re-opened 47 temples, rebuilt a few shrines and removed several encroachments from religious premises", he said.

Alleging "massive" land grabbing of temple plots in the Valley, Pandit said the passage of the Temple and Shrines Bill would help save the pantheons from land sharks and encroachers.

KPC Chief Kundan Kashmiri said the statement of SDSSS has hurt the sentiment of displaced KPs and termed it as most unfortunate.

He said this is an indication that some forces are hell bent to sabotage the passage of Shrines Bill.

Kundan Kashmiri, while further reacting to the statement said that Pandits take Sadhu Samaj in high esteem and they still don’t believe the statement as it is Sadhu Samaj which has from times immemorial contributed for uplifting of dharma and taken a lead in challenging those who tried to denigrate religion and Hindu Samaj.

PDD disconnects illegal electricity connections

The Power Development Department (PDD) in series of inspections conducted at Akhnoor and Khour blocks of Jammu district on March 17 and 18, to recover huge outstanding of electricity charges and to regularize illegal connections and kundies.

At Akhnoor block power of 20 atta chakkis, five saw mills, three welding sets, four poultry farms and two brick kilns was disconnected for want of huge arrears. Arrears of ` 50,000 on account of electricity charges were recovered from two crushers. Besides power supply of DCM School at Gurah Brahmana was also disconnected due to non-payment of electricity charges.

At Khour block power connections of four domestic, three table saw mills, two poultry farms, one pump set and one welding set were detected illegal and a fine of ` 39,810 was imposed. Power supply of entire village Bhopur, consisting of 100 households was disconnected by switching off two 100 KVA Distribution Stations due to non-payment of electricity charges by the residents in the entire financial year. Besides three power connections and eight domestic connections were also disconnected at village Dhounchak, Datyal and Mattu due to non-payment of electricity charges.

They were warned that their power supply will not be restored till they deposit their electricity charges and regularize their illegal connections. The general public was requested to immediately deposit their electricity charges failing which the disconnection drive will be continued in other areas also.

BJP holds Jan Sammelans

BJP held two public Jan Sammelans in connection with its ongoing mass awareness campaign today.The BJP leader and Ex Corporator, Omi Khajuria organized the Jan Sammelan of Ward 65 at Anuradha Puram Barnai while another public meet was organized in Ward No. 21 of the Gandhi Nagar.

At Ward number 65 rally BJP National Executive member, Dr Nirmal Singh was the chief guest while Party chief Shamsher Singh Manhas presided the rally at Ward 21.

Addressing the Samelan at Anuradha Puram , Dr Singh accused the coalition government of adopting double standards on holding of Municipal Corporations and urban local bodies elections. He said there are many discrepancies in voter lists and demanded that Corporation voter lists of 2005 be made basis of holding municipal elections this time.

He demanded immediate holding of elections to municipal corporations in the state-, which are now over due. Dr Singh also accused the coalition government of its ineptness in handling the situation at Rajouri.

Among others, the rally was attended by former Mayor, JMC, Kavinder Gupta, Ex MLA Bali Bhagat, BJP Mahila Morcha senior leader, Mamta Singh, Kissan Morcha chief, Karan Singh, ex Corporators, Ashok Singh Manhas, Manohar Lal Bhagat and Neerja Khajuria, Narinder Singh Manhas Ward president and Balwinder Singh. A large number of BJP activists attended the Samlean.

Addressing the gathering at Gandhi Nagar Shamsher Singh Manhas said the problems of the people are getting complicated day by day and the government has no concern for the common man. While the Chief Minister devotes his energy and time in provoking the people by issuing misleading statements, his ministers are busy in making money by adopting all the means, he added.

Manhas reiterated BJP’s demand of abrogation of Article 370 and opposed special constitutional position to the state.

BJP National Executive Member & Chief Spokesperson Dr. Jitendra Singh said that Ward No. 21 is unique in the sense that it houses the population of all the sections of the society and all the religions and therefore a vote in favour of the BJP from this ward will send out a strong message of secularism.

BJP senior leader& Ex-MLA Ch. Piara Singh appealed for unity among all religions and castes and warned against false propaganda by certain elements. Ch. Vikram Rahdhawa said that the time has come when the people should end rule of loot unleashed by the local Congress MLA.

Suresh Jamwal, Rajesh Gupta, Vinay Gupta, Baldev Singh, S. Amrik Singh, Jaideep Sharma, Arun Khosla, Balwant Singh, Sat Pal Choudhary also addressed the gathering.

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